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10 Cities That Will Pay You to Live There
Editor's Note: The Live Detroit program is no longer accepting applications after the program ended in 2016 with what city officials call “great success.”
In the face of declining or slowing population growth, some cities have decided to get aggressive about their survival.
Some are giving away free land, while others are literally handing out stacks of cash to folks who agree to move their metropolitan area.
If you could use a change of scenery, why not get paid free money to move somewhere?
Here are ten places that really, really want you to move there…
1. Detroit, Michigan
(Editor's Note: This program has ended and is no longer available)
Detroit has seen some better days, but Motown is moving its way back up.
To encourage growth and development and bring fresh blood to the city’s heart, certain employers are offering incentives to move to downtown Detroit through the Downtown Detroit Partnership.
Aside from the excitement of city life and saving a ton of cash on your commute, benefits of living downtown for those eligible include:
- New homeowners receive a $20,000 forgivable loan toward the purchase of their primary residence.
- New renters receive a $2,500 allowance of funding toward the cost of their apartment in the first year, followed by an additional $1,000 for the second year.
- Existing renters receive a $1,000 allowance of funding for renewing a lease.
- Existing homeowners receive matching funds of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements for projects of $10,000 or more.
Some participating employers include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Compuware, Quicken Loans, and Strategic Staffing Solutions, but click here for the full eligibility and benefit details.
2. New Haven, Connecticut
Got a family? Want free money to live in the Northeast?
You might want to consider New Haven, Connecticut.
The city will give you an interest-free, $10,000 assistantship to help cover closing costs or a down-payment on a home — and it’s 100% forgivable so long as you stay in your new home for five or more years.
But there’s more to this incentive program.
New Haven is future-minded, which is why they’re offering movers $30,000 to make energy-saving upgrades to their homes.
And our very favorite part?
The city guarantees free tuition at public colleges to students who graduate from a New Haven public school, or up to $2,500 a year toward tuition at nonprofit schools.
3. Marquette, Kansas
Anyone who’s ever driven cross country via I-70 knows Kansas has no shortage of open space.
The state’s experienced declining population growth since the early 1900’s, so towns like Marquette and have been giving out free plots of land in order to entice new residents.
Marquette’s free plots are located on the west side of town in the Westridge Addition, and the website promises beautiful sunset views over the open fields.
To qualify for the free land, you must agree to build a home on the land within one year, and commit to living there for at least a year after your home is completed.
4. Lincoln, Kansas
Here’s another Kansas town offering free land to qualified inhabitants. According to its website, you’ll be able to see the buffalo roam from your home on the range, should you take them up on their offer.
Again, you’ll have to comply with the city’s requirements for building and inhabiting a home within set time parameters. Contact Lincoln City Hall for full details.
Even if neither Marquette nor Lincoln quite suits you, you might be able to take advantage of Kansas’ Rural Opportunity Zones elsewhere. They cover 77 counties, and benefits include tax waivers and student loan repayments.
5. Anywhere in Alaska
This is probably the most famous example of a geographical incentive.
Since 1976, Alaska has paid its residents to live there via its Permanent Fund Reserve. The payouts are funded by Alaska’s oil royalties and are divided up evenly among citizens.
Yearly payouts vary: In 1984, each Alaskan got $331.29, but the check fattened to $3,269 in 2008 with a one-time $1,200 Alaska Resource Rebate.
Generally, residents can expect an average of about $1,250. Not too shabby just for being there!
To be eligible for the rebate, you must not claim residency in any other state or country. Check out the full details here.
6. Anywhere in Saskatchewan, Canada
In an effort to attract and retain more college graduates, Saskatchewan is offering tuition reimbursements of up to $20,000 CAD (about $15,956 USD) to recent grads from 2010 or later.
The rebate comes in the form of a non-refundable tax credit, and you’ll see it paid out over the course of up to 10 years.
Check this link to see if your alma mater is on their list of preapproved institutions, and to get full details on eligibility and benefits.
7. Curtis, Nebraska
How’d you like to build your dream home — without spending a dime on the land itself?
All of the lots come utility ready and are located on paved streets.
8. New Richland, Minnesota
Life’s simpler in the Midwest — especially when you can get land for free.
If you build a home within a year of receiving the land’s deed, your new property in New Richland’s Homestake subdivision will be 100% free of charge.
Plus, the town’s in proximity to a golf course, lake and bike trails.
9. Harmony, Minnesota
Want to move to the “Biggest Little Town in Southern Minnesota”?
The town of Harmony will provide home-builders a cash rebate of up to $12,000 to cover costs of construction — and the program has zero age, income or residency restrictions.
10. Niagara Falls, New York
Need help repaying your student loans?
It might be as easy as moving to scenic Niagara Falls, New York.
The city will pay out almost $7,000 over the course of your two-year residency if you agree to live in specific neighborhoods.
Plus, you’ll live right next to one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Your Turn: Would you move to any of these places?